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News from the Greater Munising Area: My boy Koda and the Alger County Animal Shelter

JAYMIE DEPEW

I met Koda when he was 11-months-old and a resident at the Alger County Animal Shelter – his third time temporarily housed at a humane society in the Upper Peninsula. Two weeks later, and after two home visits, he moved into my house to live with me, my partner, and a cat named Goat, forever.

While it’s optimistic to think that every animal residing in shelters will find their human and have a happy outcome, this, unfortunately, isn’t true. Every year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized in the United States, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Fortunately, most shelters in the U.P. practice a no-kill philosophy and share the goal to put an end to euthanasia unless an animal is terminally ill.

ACAS is a donation-based nonprofit organization located in Munising. The shelter has a small staff that handle the day-to-day operations, a group of volunteers that help with the workload, and a board of directors which handles finances and ensures procedures and policies are followed. It prides itself on being a no-kill, and no time-limit haven for animals until they find a loving and suitable home.

I started working with ACAS after moving to the area earlier this year, spending a night here and there socializing the animals, cleaning cages, feeding and giving them fresh water, and letting the dogs outside for exercise and playtime. There is nothing like having an adorable kitten climb up your pant leg from the floor, only to nuzzle your chin as it perches on your shoulder. Or having a dog twice your size give you a welcome hug and fat kiss.

But mostly, there’s nothing like seeing the dogs laying on their beds and wagging their tails, but sometimes whimpering because they want to go home with you or someone else. There’s nothing like cats brushing their bodies against their kennels right after you put them back in because they’re already dreaming about being back out.

After Koda and I adopted one another, he came to the shelter with me sometimes to play with other dogs. I was worried the first time that he’d think I was bringing him back there to live – a norm for him as he averaged three months in a home before he was back at a shelter for almost a year. Needless to say, I have never seen a dog more excited to arrive at the front door of a shelter. So much, actually, I thought he might be having doubts about living with me. Fortunately, I discovered it was because he could hear familiar dogs barking as we pulled into the driveway, but after a good play, he was ready to go back to his new home, with me.

I don’t need to tell you how emotionally draining being a part of an animal shelter or rescue can be. It’s all mostly true. However, the best part about it, to me, is not just about the furry friends I make, but fighting to ensure that their stories won’t end needlessly like the other 1.5 million animals in our country

Editor’s note: Jaymie Depew is the communications and special project assistant for the Alger County Chamber of Commerce/Greater Munising Bay Partnership for Commerce Development, Munising Downtown Development Authority and Munising Visitors Bureau.

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